Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Enjoy the last (non-epilogue) chapter of "Just My Luck." I'm sorry, but I've already decided that there will be NO sequel to this story. I've written sequels before on other accounts, and let me tell you, it gets boring. Sorry, but this story is the only story related to this I will write.
Chapter Thirty-Four: The End
Before he had ever stepped into Minerva McGonagall's office to accept her proposal so long ago, Harry had never dreamt of anything even vaguely similar to the circumstances he found himself in at the moment. This, not worries and pressures, was what he thought of has his body's molecules were pulled back and forth between time and space, sucked in some unknown direction as if through a vacuum.
And yet despite all the time and energy he had put into being concerned over the outcome of the future, Harry was calm. Visions of his friends and family from 1977 flitted unbidden across his consciousness, faces clashing with ideas and vibrant colors.
The trip was longer than the one going into the past. But perhaps that was purely mental. Harry didn't know. His body was relaxed, being pulled by an unseen force.
Then, with a sudden and unprecedented jolt, Harry had completed his journey.
Harry was lying on some sort of floor, he could tell. Indoors. He kept his eyes closed as he enjoyed the last seconds, then minutes, and eventually nearly an hour that he was unaware of what his blundering in the past had surely cost humanity.
Finally, with an aged sigh, Harry sat up, his eyes still closed. The space around him was silent. If there had been people talking, or any noise at all really, circumstances would have been different. Harry would have stayed there. But it was quiet, and due to this, Harry worried.
Harry opened his eyes.
At first, he couldn't tell where he was. It had been nearly a year since he'd been in this room, and to call his life since then hectic would have been an understatement. Harry allowed himself a weak sliver of a smile. It was Hermione and his living room.
It wasn't as if he hadn't known she was still in a relationship with him. Last he'd seen her, she was in the Room of Requirements in 1977, after he'd made changes to the past. It was only common sense that dictated that she would be (as far as he knew) unaffected.
Harry stood up, his legs shaking uncontrollably. He straightened out and looked around himself, examining every single thing around him. To be honest, it was almost exactly the same.
There was Hermione and his wedding picture, their DA galleons, the Marauder's Map... the list of mementos went on an on. Strangely, everything seemed to be the same.
Harry ripped his eyes from the moving photograph to survey the rest of the house. Tentatively, he called out. "Hello?" There was no answer. "Is anybody home? Hermione? Star?"
Still, no answer. He put two fingers in his mouth and emitted an earsplitting whistle (his special call for Star, their dog) but there was no trademark scuffling of nails on their floor, no lolling tongue. Harry gulped.
Walking slowly, he toured his house.
It was almost identical to how he'd left it. Sure, there were new books, new photographs (around half of which he did not recognize in the slightest: the first change) and even a bit of new furniture, but other than that, his house was strangely similar. This comforted and yet disturbed him.
Finally, after over a quarter hour of just snooping around his own property, Harry walked out the door of his house. The sun was blinding to Harry's oversensitive eyes, and he shielded them with a hand. The yard in the front, too, was the same. The calf-length wild grass, the ancient and stunted, apple trees out front... everything. A large Muggle family full of rowdy boys walked down the street in front of him, unaware that their house was even there.
The Man Who Conquered shuffled uncertainly out onto the sun-bleached porch, still looking around for some horrible, cosmic difference.
Finally, Harry knew he had to stop looking around his house. He needed to leave his Muggle street and go into the wizarding world if he was to see the real changes. Harry grimaced, though he'd known the entire time that this was inevitable. Thoughtlessly placing a silencing charm on himself before leaving the wards, Harry stepped out onto the sidewalk and looked around. There was no one in sight, the Muggle family having long since moved on. Then, without a single sound, he disappeared into thin air.
Harry was sucked through time and space in scientifically impossible speeds towards his destination, Diagon Alley. He half-hoped that he would somehow get lost in Apparition, and end up going back to 1978, which had become his pseudo-home in the past 10 months. However, he dissuaded himself from this wish halfway through thinking it. He had to face this like the man he had become.
Harry appeared soundlessly in front of Ollivander's wand shop, facing the ancient store. The familiar shop stared back at him, the dusty purple cushion with the single wand still intact as if had hadn't been abandoned for the better part of a year while Ollivander had been kidnapped by Voldemort. Somehow, this similarity was the most comforting thing he could have imagined seeing. The Man Who Conquered turned around, not letting himself over-think this.
The street was bustling, brightly-robed witches and wizards chatting to their friends and family as they peered into the fantastical shop windows. A spell flashed through the air to Harry's right, and his hand leaped to his pocket, where his wand was situated, expecting an attack. After all, the last time he'd been in the Diagon Alley area, Peter Pettigrew had been viciously attacking he, Sirius, and Remus.
But no, a second later the blue light was backed up by a screeching, blonde mother berating her young twin daughters, one of whom was holding a wand that very obviously didn't belong to her.
Harry didn't relinquish his grip on his wand, letting his wide robe sleeve cover it as he joined the masses, letting himself be pulled by the tide of the crowd, looking for differences. For the first time, he truly entertained the idea that nothing could have changed. The thought was both hopeful and terrifying. Was it possible that the universe had simply erased his presence in 1977 and 1978, leaving the Wizarding World exactly as it had been when he'd left? Probable? Harry thought not. But possible... certainly.
"Excuse me, mister, could you help me... find..." a young female voice trilled next to him. Harry turned to his right, looking down at a young, dark-haired girl of Asiatic decent. Her question stuttered to a halt as she looked up at him, her wide brown eyes filling up a disproportionate part of her face. "You're... you're..." she muttered almost to herself. "You're Harry Potter!" Almost out of habit, Harry stiffened, expecting either paparazzi or Death Eaters to appear (though he truly wasn't sure which he preferred).
"Yes, I am indeed," Harry stated in a formal tone, smiling at her. The young girl (Harry suspected she was a second or third year at Hogwarts) looked beyond dumbstruck as she stared up at him, her mouth hanging open. Harry was half amused, half alarmed. "Are you oka-"
"You're Harry Potter!" she whispered again. Harry supposed he should be happy she was the quietly surprised type. Over the years of dealing with "fans," he had learned that there were two types of Potter-freaks. There were the type that screamed bloody murder when they saw him, clutching at their hearts and alerting everyone and their dog within a five mile radius that he was there. Second, there were the quiet ones, who just stared. Though this was often more convenient (though unfortunately rather rare), they often did this for amazing periods of time without blinking.
"But you've been in the past!" she remarked, as if this cancelled any argument for his current location. Harry's mind raced. When he'd left, his trip to the past was not common knowledge. For it to be now, one of two things had to have happened.
Option one. The information was leaked to the press, either by somebody looking for their 15 minutes of fame, overly-investigative reporters, or accidentally.
Or option two. Enough change had been made to the 21st century that the truth had needed to be revealed to stop general chaos.
Harry wasn't quite sure which one he was hoping for. Harry looked down at the girl. She stared up, her hesitance and timid demeanor gone and turned into curiosity. Gulping, Harry braced himself to ask blunt questions.
"So what has changed because of me being in the past?" Harry asked. She looked up at him curiously, as if she was trying to decide if he were quizzing her, or actually didn't know.
"Well," she started to say, "- I don't know all of the latest changes, there's too many to keep up wi-" but halfway through her sentence, Harry was forced to stop listening. Literally.
A body mass hit him from the left, making him stumble and very nearly topple over. He windmilled his arms to keep balance frantically, grasping for his wand.
"Harry!" the female voice cried out. Harry relaxed, a huge smile raising to his lips. He knew this voice.
"H-Hermione?" he stuttered, trying to get a look of who was hugging him. His wife's wavy brown hair stuck out of a loose pony tail, her eyes watery.
"Harry... it really is you! We were so worried when you didn't reappear back at the forest of Dean... that's where we thought you would be! I mean, you appeared there, so it was only logical that-" she was rambling, but Harry didn't mind in the least. He would spend all day listening to her ramble, if he could.
He bent down, hugging her back and kissing her briefly.
"And... and..." Hermione kept stuttering, tears streaming from her eye. "Oh Harry we all missed you so much." Though she had started loudly, her voice had slowly become a whisper, smiling as she wrapped her arms around him.
"I missed you too... I love you," Harry whispered back.
They stood there in the middle of Diagon Alley for... well... Harry didn't know how long before they managed to come back to their senses. Harry looked down. The little girl had long since wandered back to her parents, and (by some miracle) people hadn't yet realized that the two people making a spectacle were in fact the Man Who Conquered and his partner in crime/wife, Hermione Potter.
"Come on," Hermione whispered, grabbing his hand and pulling him through the crowd. Harry allowed himself to be dragged, not paying attention to anybody he bumped into or any stores — despite their purposeful distractions. In what seemed like seconds, but must have been almost a quarter of an hour, they arrived. Harry recognized the place they were in. It was Hermione's favorite coffee shop in the magical world, "The Rolling Galleon."
Everything seemed to be happening so fast. He'd just gotten back to the future (somehow saying this mentally seemed funny... he suspected it was a muggle band he half-remembered) and now he was already with his wife after what had been far too long. However, he still couldn't bring himself to fully enjoy what was happening.
He paused before speaking. "Hermione-" he said, but she seemed to know what he was going to ask. She smiled reminiscently at him, holding his hands across the little table in the empty coffee shop.
"Your friends and family always were your first priority, weren't they Harry?" she said, laughing a little under her breath. His breath caught. Did she think that he wasn't worried enough about her?
"No, you are my first pri-" Harry's wife laughed, squeezing his hand.
"You may have forgotten, Harry, but I do count myself under 'family,' now," she teased. Harry flushed a bit, but urged her to continue. She sighed.
"A lot has changed since you've last been here, Harry," she said, looking out the window and leaning back in her seat. Her chocolate brown eyes clouded a bit and a strand of curly hair fell across her face.
"For better or for worse?" questioned Harry apprehensively, licking his dry lips. She didn't even have to think about it.
"Almost all for better," she reassured. Harry's heart felt as if a thousand kilogram weight had just been lifted off his chest. He released tense muscles that he hadn't even realized he'd been clenching, practically melting into his seat.
A distracted waitress delivered their drinks — a chai tea for her and a cappuccino for him. Harry barely even noticed, though Hermione picked hers up, sipping thoughtfully.
"To be honest, I can't say that I expected your trip to the past to go completely without effects. But the most I expected was perhaps a few people changing jobs, or small things like that. And I hadn't really put any thought into how these changes would take effect. I figured that they would just seamlessly pop into existence."
Harry could practically feel the 'but' about to happen.
"But that's not exactly what happened. If you think about it, it makes sense."
"What?" Harry said, unable to let her get to the point so slowly any longer. "What happened? Who's alive? Did anybody disappear, or die, or—"
She looked him up and down, as if trying to figure out how it was best to explain. "Yes, people are alive. And nobody 'died,' as you implied, though there are those who are not the same. Many who are not the same. And not everybody came back to life."
"Who?" Harry asked, focusing (as usual) on the bad rather than the good. She took a deep breath, and began to list names.
"Well, first of all, your father and mother are alive," (Harry's mind flat lined) "- as are Sirius, Remus, Regulus Black, Tonks, Cedric Diggory, the Longbottoms, Quirrell, Bertha Jorkins, Marlene McKinnon, Mad-Eye Moody, Dobby, and Snape. Those are the only people who just randomly came back to life. Or at least we think. Seamus is in Romania right now doing reconnaissance to see if Gregorovitch — the wandmaker, remember? — is alive as well."
But Harry's mind had stopped working the second she'd finished listing names. Was it really possible that so many things had gone right, for once? Sirius, his father and mother, the Longbottoms, Cedric. Even Dobby and Snape! And he was sure there were dozens more they weren't aware of. So far they all seemed to be people killed by Voldemort and the Death Eaters, which was far more extensive than the eleven-person list Hermione had named.
But before he had the chance to question her further she continued in a more grave tone.
"However, the circumstances of their... arrivals here aren't as you may have hoped, Harry. Let's see... it's hard to explain." She paused for a second, collecting her thoughts. "You see, though they are still mostly the people you know and love, they died at very different time periods. Therefore, they were returned to the bodies they had when they died."
Harry was horrified. Did that mean they all looked like zombies? Hermione saw his face and chuckled, her nose scrunching up. "No, not like you're thinking. I mean in terms of their ages."
Harry stared at her blankly, not understanding.
"Here's an example. Well, because your parents were 21 when they died, they're 21 now, with memories of his life until their death, including dying. However, Sirius is 36, his dying age, and Remus is 38. Likewise, Cedric is 17." Harry blinked, unsure of how to comprehend this.
He tried to imagine the 21-year-old James joking around with a 36-year-old Sirius and 38 -year-old Remus, and consequently failed miserably. He thought around the consequences experimentally, weighing pros and cons.
The largest obvious downside was the... well... strangeness of the whole ordeal. It would be strange for him, the people who had come back to life, and just about everybody else who had ever known them even for a short while. And, of course, there was the question of whether or not they remembered their time with Harry in 1977 and 1978. Not to mention if they remembered the past as it had been with Harry's change, or how it had originally been.
Harry was getting a headache from the complexity of it all.
Over the course of the next hour, the truth slowly trickled out. Several other newly resurrected names came to Hermione, including Molly Weasley's brothers — Fabian and Gideon, and Colin Creevy.
From what it seemed to Harry, the characters of the past had simply... appeared in current times after their deaths. They remembered Harry's time at Hogwarts (to his utmost relief), and the vastly different lifestyle members of the English wizarding community had lived after Voldemort and all his horcruxes had been demolished. However, this was not all they remembered.
Though they had perfect recollection of their lives with Voldemort being killed by Harry in 1978, they also remembered the version of their life in which Harry, Ron, and Hermione had spent the vast majority of their lives. The reality where Sirius had spent 12 years in Azkaban; where Voldemort had been barely alive, biding his time before rising; where Remus had lived in self-inflicted solitude for years after James and Lily's deaths.
Harry, for what felt like the millionth time, wasn't sure how to feel. He felt sorry for Sirius (he'd truly hoped to erase his memories of Azkaban forever), but on the same track, he was immensely relieved that his godfather remembered his and Harry's relationship until then. It was the same story with all the rest of the newly risen.
Then, suddenly, a thought occurred to Harry. He frowned slightly in contemplation, folding lines of worry appearing on the corners of his down-turned lips.
"Hermione," he said, very nearly thinking out loud. "What about Dumbledore?" Now that he thought about it, Albus Dumbledore's name was one of the few people she hadn't mentioned. Hermione's eyes stared at the scuffed wood flooring of the cafe, tightening her grip around her barely lukewarm chai tea.
"He didn't come back, Harry," she finally said. Harry sighed. Some part of him had known this would happen.
"But why?" Harry said, beseeching her for an answer he knew she could not give him. Her eyes softened as she worried her lip, scratching the back of her hand absentmindedly.
"He was old, Harry," she said at last. "We don't know for sure, but a small team and I met to discuss his lack of reanimation, and we believe that his life would have been over by now anyways, and therefore he did not return."
Harry smiled faintly, resisting the urge to release a strained laugh. "It would be just like Dumbledore to deny the chance to return to life, too," he said. "'The next great adventure,' he always called it."
Hermione leaned over the table distancing them, squeezing his right hand between her two smaller ones.
"I love you," she said with conviction. The sound of her lowered, secretive voice spoke volumes in itself, words not withstanding. Harry looked back at his wife. For the first time, he really allowed himself to compare her with the woman he had left behind, and admit that she was different.
She was still the Hermione Potter nee-Granger that the loved, but she had grown physically and mentally. Her hair was longer, her fingernails manicured. For some event he hadn't been able to attend, no doubt. She was wearing a flowing shirt he had never seen beneath her embroidered dark blue robes.
Yes, Hermione Potter had changed while he had been away. Harry just didn't want to admit it. The largest change, however strangely jarring the little ones had been, was in her eyes. When Harry had left for 1977 in the beginning of the previous year she had been just recovering from the war, but now her eyes held a new lightness in them.
Her pain acquired during the first Horcrux-hunt escapade had diminished into acceptance. A tiny glint of joy was visible in the corner of her eye, and it was the first time since third year at Hogwarts that joy seemed to be a constant fixture in her life. Harry smiled weakly.
Harry and Hermione spent the rest of the day alone together for the first time in nearly a year. They talked, ate, walked, and even went shopping. And for Harry, this was the best possible outcome of his returning day. He wasn't quite ready to resume all the responsibilities he'd claimed by being himself just yet. Being head of the Auror Department, and the first time traveler of more than a few hours was taxing. Being able to relax with his wife was wonderful beyond compare. However, even in his relaxed state, there was a foreboding feel to the day. Harry knew that in just a few hours, the simple day he'd been having would be gone.
And so it was.
Finally, around 6:30PM, as he and Hermione were stepping out of a newly released Muggle movie he knew it was time to pick up the weight of being Harry Potter once again.
However, figuring out the oddities of the time travel escapade would come first, far before the Ministry. So, together, he and Hermione apparated to the Burrow. Though none of the Weasley children still resided in the Weasley house, it was somewhat of a base for communication and socialization of the Order of the Phoenix. (Which, technically, was still together — though now its purposes were more similar to a club than a fighting organization.)
As they were plopped in front of the aging house, Harry was struck with a strange reminiscent feeling. He had been here barely a month ago with Sirius and Remus, in 1977, just before leaving to acquire the locket Horcrux. It was relatively recent, and yet it felt as if a million years had passed since Mrs. Weasley had shoved clattering vials of potion into his arms as he stepped out of the latched gate of their house. It looked the same, albeit with peeling paint, different chickens, and less garden gnomes. It was more than a little strange to be back.
Hermione clasped his hand in hers wordlessly, and they opened the gate. Harry could feel the wards as he stepped through the gate, brushing his hand against a monstrously large lavender plant which Arthur Weasley had convinced his wife to plant when he had been in a faze of Muggle Herbology.
The door opened before they had even climbed the rickety, boot-covered steps. The brass handle clanged against the nearby window frame and an extremely frazzled Molly Weasley stepped out, pushing the screen door out of the way. For a second she stood there on the stoop, looking down at Harry and Hermione with a look of wonder and love. Then, she screamed. The screech was drawnout and earsplitting. It was by no means the first time Harry had heart her yell this loudly. It was, however, the first time he'd ever seen her faint afterwards.
Her body fell to the floor, the blow softened by a cushioning charm Hermione had cast in a quick bit of spellwork. What sounded like a herd of elephants were coming in from all corners of the Burrow towards the door, the creaky house practically swaying as all its inhabitants converged to the doorway up in arms, their wands outstretched and ready to battle.
The first person to make it there was Ron. For a second, he stared at Harry and Hermione. Then, a huge smile dawned over his freckled face as he bounded down the steps and pulled them into a hug tighter than Harry had ever received.
"Harry James Potter, you complete arse!" he bellowed, half congenial and half enraged. "Not only do you go back in time without me, again, but you make a huge mess for us at the Ministry — leaving Kingsley and I to fix it up for you!" Harry's oldest friend slapped him on the back several times, his bearlike hands rattling Harry's bones. Harry honest to God couldn't tell if Ron was happy to see him or just angry.
Then, a torrent of people came rushing down the steps, pushing themselves down into the garden pathway until nearly 20 people were involved in a huge hug, yelling a mixture of complaints and statements of how much they'd missed him.
Everybody seemed to be there, conveniently enough. Not only was the entire Weasley posse present (even Bill and Charlie, though Harry wasn't sure why they were there), but Neville, Luna, McGonagall, Mundungus Fletcher and more. Even, Harry noted, quite a few people who hadn't been alive when he had left. James, Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Moody, and several others were there as well, beaming at him from the outskirts of the circle.
Still shouting and embracing Harry jovially, the procession slowly made its way inside the Burrow. The modestly sized living room was packed to its burst point, people spilling over into the adjoining hallways as they tried to get closer to Harry. Harry, understandably, was quite overwhelmed; this feeling only increasing as he saw the normally mild tempered Minerva McGonagall shoving an enraged Mad Eye Moody into the broom cupboard as she tried to push her way to the front.
Sometime after Hagrid had shown up (breaking the Weasley's door frame in his haste to enter the Burrow) somebody seemed to have decided that enough was enough. Though Harry was unaware of who cast the spell, the living room suddenly expanded, multiplying to about three times its previous size. Finally, people settled into their places, piling into conjured chairs around Harry. The Man Who Conquered got the distinct feeling that he was a primary school teacher during story time, all the eagerly listening figures staring up at him in wonder.
Ron was sitting at the chair directly to his right, reclining with a relaxed grin on his face. The usually normal situation was made strange by the fact that a very disgruntled, 17-year-old Cedric Diggory was sitting on the ground by his feet — the latest arrival in their not so little group.
Harry sighed. This was going to take a while.
And sure enough, it did.
Though he had been filled in on what had happened by Hermione (for the most part) little gaps in his knowledge were filled up... how Arthur Weasley was doing as Minister, new relationships (Ginny and Cedric were apparently getting along surprisingly well), and more. Harry was taken aback, again, by how many things had changed.
The big things, he had thought of — to say the least. ("Thought of," in this instance, meaning worried and fretted over.) However, he had almost managed to forget the little things he had changed. Silly things, which somehow managed to strike him to the bone. For example, George had grown a beard, and a rather long one at that. Not to mention that, as it turned out, Draco Malfoy and the rest of the Death Eater offspring were fine.
As some of the only people who didn't have a second "past," they were some of the only ones totally unchanged by Harry's journey.
Harry had never been so happy to be wrong.
Finally, after he'd been mostly filled in about the goings on, he began his tale. Though in the beginning, he had told them that it was long and they were all free to go leave any time they wished, for some reason he couldn't fathom, they all seemed in rapture of his journeys. Though Sirius, James, and Remus (who Harry hadn't yet really talked to yet) seemed to have filled them in on most things, there were several rather large pieces of memory missing. His battle with Voldemort. The particulars of the Fiendfyre incident in Malfoy Manor, and more.
Though he had told himself to shorten it up, the Man Who Conquered had soon found himself unable to just skip over things without protest that he should explain further. To his chagrin, the whole history of his trip back in time took over two hours to fully explain; complete with interjections from the resurrected and questions.
Finally, after estranged congratulations (though for what, Harry wasn't quite sure. It wasn't like this was his first time beating Voldemort), people finally started trickling away little by little until finally it was only Harry, the Weasleys (minus Bill, Charlie, and Percy), Hermione, the Resurrected (as he had taken to calling them in his mind), and a few final stragglers.
Ron and Hermione were talking with him in a relaxed manner. As his oldest friends, they knew that he didn't want to talk about the difference in time periods any more. And for that, Harry was beyond thankful. He just wanted to get a nice cup of tea, and then go to bed. Hermione interlaced her fingers with his and squeezed their palms together, mentally comforting him and telling him to pull through.
Cedric and Ginny stepped forward them next. It was beyond strange seeing Cedric alive and well again, and seventeen to boot. Cedric looked Harry up and down silently. It occurred to Harry that he was really the only person here (excluding the Marauders and Lily) who hadn't really known him as a person when he had been attending Hogwarts.
"I can't believe you're older than me," Cedric confided at last, running a hand through his hair. Harry chuckled.
"We're the same height now, too," he commented, straightening his back. It was light conversation, and Harry was glad they were having it. It was a welcome break from all the importance of recent events. They chatted amicably for a few minutes; Cedric commenting astonishedly on events that had happened after his death: "I still can't believe you killed Voldemort twice!" and a faux-casual, "So... I hear you dated Cho after I died" being most prevalent.
Though Harry had gone through a mini-seizure when he heard the second comment and started stuttering incomprehensibly, Cedric had just laughed it off.
"It's fine, Harry. Cho's engaged now, anyways. Also, I'm quite over her."
He snaked his hand down into Ginny's. She looked up at him with a look in her sepia eyes he had never seen during their brief stint of dating. Harry supposed it was fated that Cedric would end up with his old girlfriend, after Harry had done the same with Cho Chang. Harry smiled, genuinely glad for the two of them.
They talked for a couple more minutes, Hermione joining in to discuss the latest of her Charms creation work with a fascinated Cedric. Finally, they meandered off under the pretense of helping Molly make hot chocolate, as the poor, aging woman was quite overwhelmed, making food for all the unexpected visitors.
Ron and Luna cycled back towards them. Luna broke away from her place under Ron's arm and quite unabashedly ran towards Harry, enveloping him in a bear hug with strength disproportionate to her rather frail figure. Her nearly white blonde hair, longer than ever, was tied into four pigtails, a pair of red, triangular glasses perched upon her ski jump nose.
"Thank you, Harry," she said sincerely, stepping back towards Ron and smoothing her sunflower yellow dress back into place. "For everything."
"... what?" Harry said rather stupidly, not getting her point. Hermione chuckled.
"You would be the one to forget how and why you originally travelled into the past, wouldn't you?" she laughed again in an affectionate, teasing manner. Harry flushed. He'd almost forgotten that his original reason for time travelling had been to prove Luna's theory.
"Did it help your cause?" Harry asked, hoping at least that issue had been solved by his long escape into the past. Luna nodded very quickly and excitedly.
"Yes, it helped very much. The patent for the spell I used has been sold to St. Mungo's to use to help in fixing botched surgeries." She gave a secretive smile. "However, I only gave them the spell that will take you back around a day. No more decade skipping for anybody."
Harry nodded in fervent agreement. As much good (and strangeness) his trip to the past had cost, he wouldn't wish that confusion upon anyone.
"Your little trip already caused enough trouble for a decade, anyways," Ron said congenially, punching Harry lightly in the shoulder. Harry laughed, glad he hadn't been around to see the chaos the Ministry had surely been in.
People began trickling out of the Burrow more quickly now. Cedric and Ginny left, followed by Luna (who needed to water the new shipment of Honking Hydrangeas she had gotten imported from Australia), though Ron remained with Harry and Hermione.
Even Molly, finally giving up on making food and leaving the kitchen open for the guest's own devices, had giveen Harry a last hug and retired up to her room. Tonks left (after a goodbye kiss to Remus, Teddy — whom the couple had taken full responsibility of — resting on her hip), followed shortly by Moody, who was grumbling something about needing to check his Disillusionment Detection Modules.
Finally, it was just Harry, Hermione, Ron, Lily, and the Marauders. Somehow, Harry had not yet talked to them. Perhaps he'd been mentally avoiding them, for fear of the pure strangeness of their group. And they were indeed a strange little band.
Then, Sirius, Remus, James, and Lily stepped forth as a cohesive unit. Their group was, no doubt, by far the most confusing thing Harry had seen since he had returned. Each at their death-age, they were a rag-tag group. James and Lily (thankfully) were the same age, but they were the only ones. Remus, 38, and Sirius, 36, were estranged from their youthfulness. James, especially seemed to be taking it hard.
Gone were the friends he'd had in his new-found adulthood. The friends with infinite optimism and years upon years ahead of them to live. Instead, he had one friend who had spent 12 years in Azkaban, and another who had been shifting back and forth from homelessness and extreme poverty for the same 12 years, all the while dealing with his lycanthropic status.
Harry rather pitied his father. No doubt he was confused and extremely sad over this development. Lily, though she still felt the burn sadness over Sirius and Remus, was less effected by the strange change in ages of Sirius and Remus. However, she her eyes were rimmed with red. She had been the only person to leave during Harry's story, having to take several trips to the bathroom along with James. Harry had no doubt that she was trying over something. However, he wasn't exactly sure what.
As Sirius, Remus, James and Lily approached, he racked his brain to try and figure it out. Then, it hit him like a speeding thestral. It was him. Harry. The last his parents had seen of him, he was just a year and a half old, and they had been protecting him from death — giving up their lives to save him.
And now, who they had known to be their son was gone, transformed into the Harry Potter they had known in 1977. James had been more prepared for this than Lily, and (though his eyes were very red as well) he was taking it slightly better out of sheer mental preparation. Having known Harry better in his time during the 1970s, he had surely gathered what his young son's future would be like and accepted that he would never get to raise his son.
Harry felt an intense burst of compassion and sorrow for his parents and all they had given up. In short, they had given up their child for the prospect of winning the war against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. They had allowed their son tbecome an adult in what (to them) seemed like just a day. They would never get to truly be his parents again.
"Hello, Harry," Sirius said, breaking the silence. His voice was different than the voice Harry had gotten accustomed to. When Sirius' voice had been that of a man just barely breaking away from adolescence. "Nice to see you again, as strange as circumstance may be."
He and Sirius hugged tightly.
Their relationship was a strange one now, no doubt about it. Sirius had known Harry both as a godson, and as a friend who he had spent the better part of four months on the road with. Remus grinned and pulled the two into a hug. It was less awkward with Remus, as Harry hadn't known him nearly as well before he'd died the Battle of Hogwarts.
Harry blinked. He was confusing even himself. In Sirius' ear, he whispered,
"How are James and Lily holding up, with my — erm . . . circumstances?" Sirius sobered, and snuck a look at Lily, who was crying unabashedly once again, leaning on James and clutching what looked like a blue baby blanket in her hands.
"As hard as it may be to hear, Harry," Remus whispered, patting him on the back, "I don't think it would be good for Lily and James to talk to you right now. They're glad to see the Harry they knew in Hogwarts, but the loss of their one-year-old son Harry is too much." Harry nodded, understanding, though a tiny bit disappointed.
Quickly, Harry decided to make his intentions for them known.
"If you two wish to go to sleep, I'm sure the Weasleys will let you use one of their children's old bedrooms," he said softly. Lily sobbed again, burrowing her head into James' sleeve. James nodded.
"That sounds good," he said. His voice was rough and gravely, cracking halfway through. Normally, James would have joked about this, but now he just let it slide, his normally life-filled eyes dull and monochromatic.
Ron showed them upstairs, helping them to retire into the first available empty bedroom; Percy's old room.
Hermione rested her head against Harry's shoulder, worn out by the day. Even the small motions she made calmed Harry down exponentially. Everything was going to be all right, he could just tell. It might take long nights filling out paperwork fixing things with the Ministry, or making speeches to the public. It might take even longer for Lily and James to accept him, or rather him as the son they had know.
But for the first time in what seemed like ages, Harry had all the time in the world.
Though I have tried (mostly successfully) to explain everything to the best of my ability, if things are very unclear, or if you want to hear about how certain character turned out, etc, please review or message me with a little note.
I have really enjoyed writing this story, and I hope you have enjoyed reading it.
Thank you for reading: